Millennials rejoice! There’s a new kid on the block that’s just starting to enter the workforce, and its name is Generation Z. Gen Z, as it’s more commonly called, is the generation succeeding Millennials, and it represents people born between the mid-1990s and the early-2010s. Though the group is still quite young, there’s a lot of research and speculation about what’s in store when they hit the workforce. So, what have we already seen from Gen Z-- and what can we expect for their future?
It comes as no surprise that there are a number of overlapping qualities between millennials and members of Gen Z. For example, both groups are similarly proficient with technology. But while Millennials can remember a time before Wi-Fi and smartphones, Gen Z was born into a world where rapid technological advancement was the norm, making them the first “digital natives.” Gen Z has been consuming information in tiny digestible bites their entire lives, and may lose interest in things quickly. In this way, they are less singularly focused than previous generations, but are instead better equipped to rapidly switch between tasks and information.
The two generations are also similar in valuing diversity and inclusivity. 48% of Generation Z in the United States is non-Caucasian, and they are also more likely to say they have friends of different races or sexual orientations than previous generations. This means that Gen Z overshadows all previous generations as the most diverse and inclusive generation to date.
Although they are similar, Gen Z is not simply a repackaging of what came before them. There are key differences that affect the entire outlook of this generation. For instance, millennials grew up during the relative peace and prosperity of the 1990s. They watched the world change after the 9/11 attacks, and they entered the once booming job market at the height of the great recession. For millennials, the socio-political and economic turmoil of the 2000s came as quite a shock to the system. Gen Z, on the other hand, grew up during a recession. They have an acute idea of what hard times look like, and what to expect when they enter the workforce and financial market. They saw their parents and older siblings struggle for what they have, and are expecting and willing to work hard to achieve their goals.
The digital age has also made the ability to gather information at lightning speed second nature to Gen Z. And because a lot of the barriers to entry for starting a traditional business (limited access to information, cost of a physical storefront, etc.) have been largely reduced or eliminated by the internet and e-commerce, Gen Z possesses an entrepreneurial streak that manifests in their hobbies and career goals. In fact, 72% of teenagers in one survey said they want to start their own business someday.
It’s hard to know exactly what’s in store for the latest generation (and their future employers). Gen Z is more connected, technologically savvy, diverse, and inclusive than any other generation that came before them. They’re pioneers in a very new world, and as this highly motivated group comes of age, we’ll have to expect the unexpected.